Ever since the days of the classic black and white silent films from the early twentieth century, psychological thrillers have proven themselves to be one of the hardest genres of filmmaking to get right. Needing to weave together a strong story and deep, layered characters with the usual tropes of building suspense and ingenious shocks, psychological thrillers are so often the go-to films for seeing the most extreme forms a human mind and body can be pushed to.
From the heyday day of Hitchcock, to the modern world of Flanagan and co., there have been numerous examples of characters and moments that have absolutely nailed these things however.
The likes of Anthony Hopkins and Kevin Spacey have mesmerised audiences with their portrayals of twisted antagonists, directors like M. Night Shyamalan have cleverly subverted expectations and pulled out huge twists, and actors like Christian Bale and Michael Douglas have shown the full effects being pushed all the way can have on even the most heroic of main characters.
When a psychological thriller really finds its form, the effects can certainly be pretty profound and hard to immediately recover from. Here's our take on ten psychological thrillers that genuinely mess with your head.
One of the most acclaimed films of all time, David Fincher's Seven is an absolute rollercoaster from start to finish. Starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as a brash young detective and his experienced mentor, the film revolves around a prolific serial killer named John Doe who becomes infamous after modelling all of his kills around each one of the seven deadly sins.
Kevin Spacey's performance as Doe is undoubtedly what helps add an extra layer of depth to this psychological crime thriller. His cold voice and lack of remorse, coupled obviously with his heinous crimes, is so alien to most folk that it messes with an audience's head to imagine an individual acting like Doe does.
There's also the thrilling climax of the film that is triggered when Doe turns himself in to the police and has a parcel delivered to Pitt's Detective Mills at a rendezvous location in the wilderness.
Everything from the mystery of what's in the delivered box, Doe's continued lack of remorse, to Pitt's genuinely haunting final delivery is enough to leave audiences breathless and sign off a film that is sure to leave them shaken up.